Category Archives: Party Politics

‘Super Tuesday’ in the federal courts – Cohen pleads, Manafort found guilty

Donald Trump’s consigliere (fixer) Michael Cohen once said he would “take a bullet for Donald Trump.”

But today Michael Cohen entered into a plea deal with the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York and agreed to be a cooperating witness. Just call Mikey Flipper today.

The big news: in counts seven and eight to which Michael Cohen plead guilty, involving payment of hush money to porn star Stormy Daniels and former Playboy playmate Karen McDougal, Donald Trump is effectively identified as an unindicted co-conspirator, for the first time since Richard Nixon.

Bloomberg News reports from the courthouse, Cohen Faces December Sentencing on U.S. Charges: Plea Update:

Cohen Acted for Candidate in Violating Campaign Law (4:43 p.m.)

In acknowledging the charges against him, Cohen said he was directed to violate campaign law at the direction of a candidate for federal office. At the same candidate’s direction, he said he paid $130,000 to somebody to keep them quiet, which was later repaid by the candidate. He didn’t identify the candidate or the person who was paid, but those facts match Cohen’s payment to Clifford [Stormy Daniels] and Trump’s repayment.

Cohen Payment Was to Hide Alleged Affairs: U.S. (4:47 p.m.)

The prosecutor told the judge the purpose of the payments was to ensure that the individuals did not disclose “alleged affairs with the candidate.” Besides the $130,000 payment, Cohen admitted to making an illegal contribution of $150,000, which was how much McDougal received from the National Enquirer’s publisher to quash her story.

Lawfare Blog has a copy of the Michael Cohen plea agreement. Michael Cohen Plea Agreement (Scribd).

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Outlaw Dirty Money initiative challenged in court

The same legal arguments being made by the GOP’s voter suppression team and its “dark money” allies (e.g., APS and “Kochtopus” tentacles) against the Invest in Education Act initiative and the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative were made against the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative on Monday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith last week, reviewing the Invest in Education Act initiative, ruled that state legislators acted illegally in enacting a requirement in 2017 that all efforts by voters to enact their own laws must be in “strict compliance” with each and every election statute.

But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Kiley reached the opposite conclusion in reviewing the Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona initiative.

The conflicting rulings mean the Arizona Supreme Court will have to determine who is right — and soon as what the justices rule ultimately could determine what will be on the November ballot. Initiatives may not be decided at the ballot box but by seven justices of the Arizona Supreme Court.

Another issue the Arizona Supreme Court will have to decide is the constitutionality of the 2014 law that requires judges to toss signatures from circulators who don’t show up in court. Failure to show up in court in response to the subpoena means a judge must invalidate all the signatures collected by that individual – even if valid.

This 2014 voter suppression law is more directly at issue in yesterday’s review of the Outlaw Dirty Money initiative. The Arizona Capitol Times reports, ‘Dark money,’ renewable energy ballot measures in court:

The question of whether voters get to decide whether to outlaw “dark money” could depend on whether a judge voids a law that throws a hurdle in the path of initiative organizers.

GOP attorney Kory Langhofer who represents groups that now do not disclose the source of their funds contends that the Outlaw Dirty Money committee does not have sufficient valid signatures to put the issue on the November ballot. At a hearing Monday, Langhofer told Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Teresa Sanders there are flaws with many of the signatures.

But much of Langhofer’s case rests on the fact that he issued more than a dozen subpoenas to people who circulated petitions, people who he contends were not legally qualified. These include people who Langhofer contends have felony convictions or did not provide a proper address.

None of those subpoenaed showed up in court on Monday.

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A travesty of justice: GOP stonewalls on Judge Brett Kavanaugh documents while rushing his confirmation hearing

I previously explained that Judge Kavanaugh provided misleading testimony in his previous confirmation hearing.

Kavanaugh testified that he had no role in the Bush administration terrorist interrogation and torture program. A year after his confirmation, NPR reported Brett Kavanaugh may have been less-than-forthright with Congress at a crucial hearing last year to confirm his appointment to a seat on the powerful federal appeals court in Washington, D.C.  Federal Judge Downplayed Role in Detainee Cases.

In fact, in 2002, Kavanaugh and a group of top White House lawyers discussed whether the Supreme Court would uphold the Bush administration’s decision to deny lawyers to American enemy combatants. Kavanaugh advised the group that the Supreme Court’s swing voter, Justice Anthony Kennedy, would probably reject the president’s assertion that the men were not entitled to counsel. Kavanaugh had worked as a clerk for Kennedy. That meeting was first reported in The Washington Post. NPR independently confirmed the details with multiple sources.

Durbin now says he feels “perilously close to being lied to” at Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing.

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A clarion call to defeat congressman David Schweikert

Arizona congressman David Schweikert, a member of the radical GOP House Freedom Caucus, recently drew an editorial opinion from The Arizona Republic practically begging voters to vote for his Democratic opponent — whoever wins the August primary. 5 reasons a Democrat could win David Schweikert’s seat, even in a Republican stronghold:

Everything about this contest seems superfluous. Why do you even go to the trouble of staging a Democratic primary in Arizona’s 6th Congressional District?

These are the posh enclaves of Paradise Valley, northeast Phoenix, Scottsdale and Cave Creek, where Republicans are born and bred to beat Democrats. They enjoy a substantial voter registration advantage of 45,000.

Consequently, the Republican incumbent has smashed his Democratic rival in the last three general elections by landslide margins of 24, 30 and 28 points.

Schweikert also enjoys the power of incumbency, and is currently far ahead in the money race.

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So why bother?

Here are five reasons Democrats and other Arizonans should care about the CD 6 Democratic primary:

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Michelle Reagan is terrible, but Steve Gaynor fancies himself the next Kris Kobach

Arizona’s bumbling  Secretary of State, Michelle Reagan, appears headed for defeat in the GOP primary as a result of her demonstrated incompetence and repeated failures in performing the essential functions of her job.

Unfortunately her Republican opponent, millionaire businessman Steve Gaynor, fancies himself the next Kris Kobach, the GOP voter suppression specialist from Kansas.

Daily Kos reports GOP primary frontrunner for Arizona secretary of state wants to stop printing ballots in Spanish:

At a recent debate ahead of Arizona’s Aug. 28 Republican primary for secretary of state, businessman Steve Gaynor advocated for banning the printing of ballots and other election materials in Spanish, arguing that they should only be in English. Furthermore, Gaynor called for repealing the 1975 amendment to the federal Voting Rights Act that, thanks to a history of discrimination by many states—including Arizona itself—requires jurisdictions with large populations of non-English speakers to provide election materials in voters’ native languages.

Given that record of discrimination in a state that’s one-quarter Latino or Native American, it’s astonishing that a candidate would openly advocate for a measure that could make voting considerably more difficult for so many. But with Republicans escalating their voter suppression efforts thanks to a Supreme Court that seems determined to eviscerate the Voting Rights Act, Gaynor’s proposal isn’t an empty threat.

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Gov. Doug Ducey to participate in Trump middle-finger to Americans on Monday

The Trump White House is planning a “Salute to the Heroes of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs [and] Border Protection” on Monday, August 20 in the East Room. The ceremony is a politically motivated stunt to provoke ire from opponents of Trump’s zero tolerance family separation policy.

Naturally,  Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey intends to participate in this middle-finger to Americans opposed to the political party of kidnapping and child abuse and making orphans out of innocent children. Way to make us proud, Trump troll.

Daily Kos reports, As hundreds of separated migrant kids remain locked up, White House to honor ICE and CBP ‘heroes’:

As hundreds of separated migrant children continue to remain under U.S. custody and at ongoing risk of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse, Donald Trump plans to honor the border agents who kidnapped them from their parents’ arms and locked them up in cages in the first place.

Politico reports the White House has planned a “Salute to the Heroes of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs [and] Border Protection” event for next Monday, coming a few days after Trump claimed that immigration agents “have been absolutely abused.”

All right, if he wants to talk abuse, let’s talk about abuse.

Despite a federal judge’s court order, the Trump administration continues to hold more than 560 kids under U.S. custody, including two dozen kids aged five years old and under. [Contempt of court.] Not only is the administration blatantly violating a court order, it’s continuing to keep kids locked up in facilities where migrant children have already been molested, and are only there because of  Trump’s family separation policy.

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